Vitality Blast T20 preview- Can the Spitfires make it back to back titles?


The 20th edition of the T20 Blast commences on Wednesday when holders Kent Spitfires entertain Somerset at Canterbury, whilst Yorkshire Vikings up against Worcestershire Rapids.

With the hope of the pleasant weather continuing during the Blast competition, once again fans are set to enjoy some super cricket as the Blast continues to be a competition that attracts a huge following.

Last years final was between Kent and Somerset, with Kent victorious by 25 runs. Once again Somerset look to have a squad that is capable of going close. The West country side’s first and only T20 Blast title came back in 2005. Since then, they have finished runners up four times and have even lost three consecutive finals between 2010 and 2012.

Somerset boasts a host of big-name overseas players including Australian bowler Peter Siddle, Marchant de Lange, Matt Renshaw and Rilee Rossouw who are all capable of producing winning moments in games.

Having reached T20 Finals Day in two of the previous four seasons, Somerset are expected to figure very much in the shake-up come the end of the Blast campaign.

No team has ever managed to win back-to-back titles, while only five sides have claimed multiple titles.

One side aside from Somerset who have always been consistent in the Blast are Nottinghamshire. The Outlaws have won two of the last five titles and have also reached four of the previous six Finals Days.

Captained by the reliable Dan Christian, the Outlaws will be very confident of challenging for the title in 2022. Along with T20 specialists Alex Hales, Samit Patel and Ben Duckett, they are a side very much feared.

The Sussex Sharks are having a disappointing red-ball campaign but when it comes to the white-balll format of the game, they are a different unit.

The Sharks reached their second Finals Days in four years last season. Back in 2018, they finished as runners up before suffering a semi-final loss at the hands of Kent last year.

Veteran batter Luke Wells thrives in this format of the game with Tymal Mills excelling with the ball. Key performers for Sussex include the brilliant Rashid Khan along with Mohammad Rizwan.

If available the likes of England internationals Joss Buttler, Liam Livingston and James Anderson may be allowed to play some part for Lancashire Lightning. If so, Lightning will be an entertaining joy to watch with Livingston and Buttler both teeing off.

Phil Salt, Hasan Ali and Matt Parkinson are three players that can also play a key role in making Lightning a tough nut to crack.

Defending champions Kent Spitfires are aiming to become the first team in history to claim back-to-back T20 Blast titles.

Matt Milnes was the competition’s second-highest wicket-taker in 2021 with the excellent Daniel Bell-Drummond the third-highest run-scorer.

Both of these players will need to be on top form for the county from the garden of England to create history.

Surrey won the inaugural T20 Blast title back in 2003. Since that historic moment, they have lost three finals, the most recent of which was back in 2020.

On paper, Surrey looks to have one of the strongest squads in the competition with the likes of Chris Jordan, Jason Roy, Tom and Sam Curran along with one of the best IPL players of recent years in Sunil Narine.

Expect Surrey to be challenging for honours in this season’s event, especially if their squad starts firing on all cylinders.

Worcestershire are one of only six sides to have reached back-to-back Blast finals. The Rapids secured silverware in 2018 before losing out to Essex in 2019. The past two seasons the Rapids have been disappointing, having failed to reach the quart-final stages.

However, they do have in their ranks three vastly experienced overseas stars. Dwayne Bravo, Colin Munro and Azhar Ali, who will certainly boost the Rapids’ hunt for silverware.

Yorkshire Vikings remain one of only five sides without a T20 Blast to their name. The Vikings have reached Finals Day in both 2012 and 2016 but have still yet to lift the trophy.

This campaign, Yorkshire have overseas players Haris Rauf, Finn Allen and Shdab Khan alongside T20 specialists David Willey and Adil Rashid which should see Yorkshire be competitive in the competition.

Hampshire Hawks have reached six straight Finals Days between 2010 and 2015, but since then they have only qualified for the semi-finals twice in 2017 and last year.

Big-hitting Captain James Vince will lead the side into another Blast campaign with the help of new addition Ben McDermott.

The Australian big hitter finished the Big Bash League as the leading run-scorer and looks destined to be a success in this season’s event.

Leicestershire Foxes are the only side so far to have won the Blast three times, admittedly between 2004 and 2011.

The Foxes had the leading run-scorer in the Blast last year with Josh Inglis with 531 runs along with the leading wicket tacker in Naveen -ul-Haq with 26 wickets but still failed to qualify for Finals Day.

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